Apple Boot Camp users in tight spot with Leopard delay

Windows licensing issues put Apple's Boot Camp users in a bind

When Apple Thursday announced it would delay the release of Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard" until October, it also put users now running Windows on their Macs in a bind.

By the licensing terms of Apple's still-in-beta Boot Camp -- the software that allows them to run Windows on Intel-based Macs -- users' rights to the program expire Sept. 30, days or perhaps even weeks before the new operating system ships. "[This License] will terminate automatically without notice from Apple upon the next commercial release of the Apple Software, or September 30, 2007, whichever occurs first," the license reads.

Boot Camp allows owners of Intel-powered Macs to create a separate partition for Windows XP or Vista. First released a year ago this month, Boot Camp has been heavily touted by the computer maker as a reason to switch from Windows-equipped PCs to its Mac line of laptops and desktops.

Earlier this week, Apple reassured Mac users that the deadline won't mean the deletion of their already-in-place Windows partitions. But the expiration will render inoperable the Boot Camp Assistant, which helps set up and manage Windows on the Mac.

Without Boot Camp Assistant, Mac users won't be able to easily install Windows, resize the Windows' partition or remove a Windows installation from their system.

Leopard's release date is important to Boot Camp users because Apple has promised to integrate the dual-boot application in the new operating system. Until Thursday, Boot Camp's expiration seemed moot, since Apple had stuck to its spring release plans for Leopard to the very end. And although it has not publicly committed to supporting the software for Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger), reports have circulated since last summer that the company will offer a US$30 final Boot Camp for Tiger at the same time it ships Leopard.

Now, however, it appears there will be a gap between the termination of Boot Camp and the unveiling of Leopard, or the release of final Boot Camp code for Tiger.

Apple officials did not reply to questions about the company's plans for Boot Camp, and how they may have changed with the Leopard delay.

Boot Camp Version 1.2 can be downloaded free-of-charge from the Apple site.

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